It was with great interest that I read that the standard thermostat had been redesigned by a team that took Steve Jobs and Apple as their inspiration. It’s so genius. I mean, it seems that stores like Skymall and Hammacher Schlemmer exist only to convince us that we need things we’d never use, when in fact what we want is new twists on the ubiquitous items we use every single day.
The new thermostat, called The Nest ($249 at store.nest.com), is more than just sleek and sexy-looking -- it learns your family’s habits so that it can turn on and off even when you don’t think to do so, which is supposed to save you energy. Which is great and all, but really, it’s kind of amazing that we accepted this ugly ecru-white box as a must-have for as long as we did.
Now, I’m hungry for more home utilities that look better than they have to. Here’s what I’ve found:
The Chick A Dee Smoke Alarm ($69 at DutchByDesign)
Of course you’re glad they’re there when you need them, but when you don’t, those '70s-era round discs in the ceiling that go off in smoke and fire are just so ... blah. Check this little number out, though. It’s a smoke detector that looks for all the world like the first robin of springtime! (Or a canary in a coal mine -- maybe they can use that idea for a line of carbon-monoxide detectors!) Tell me you don’t want one. Liar. You know you do.
PlusMinusZero Fukasawa Humidifier ($415 at JapanTrendShop)
“Inspired by Apple” should really be its own category. From the Eva character in Wall-E to these pretty little buttons, sleek and candylike gadgets have been all the rage since Jony Ive returned to Apple as a lead designer in the '90s. Tell the truth: If it weren’t in the headline, you’d never have known what these were, would you? Which makes them a thing of beauty rather than a thing of, um, steamy. Also a thing of spendy, but maybe humidifiers that look like Lifesavers are worth the cash.
USB Boat ($22.50 at Kikkerland.com)
Well, this certainly isn’t the only funky USB port you can buy -- there are tons. But this one is different, because rather than going the silly route, it’s stately and doesn't get all showy on you. So it won’t clutter up a desk or compete for attention. It just quietly sails through your consciousness, adding a quiet quirk to your tech-tool layout. Plus, it’s a port -- get it?
Leopard Print Hose Clothes ($24 to $34 at DirtCouture)
Tired of that ol’ bright-green snake you use to water the garden? Yes, you are. You just didn’t know it until you saw this hose slipcover that comes in three different colors. What are the other two? Who cares?!
What home appliance do you think should get a makeover?